Google's Cloud is Safer Than My Den

Users should ponder risks in storing data on the Web, but it's safer there than at home

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A privacy group is asking federal regulators to force Google to take down its Web-based storage, including the hugely popular GMail. Google should have to prove the data that it stores is secure, says the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

The privacy group cites several known breaches of Google's security, including one this month that exposed some Google Docs to people without permission to see the files. Google had said the breach only affected  a sliver of the documents stored and only among users who had previously shared files.

EPIC's director concedes in an interview with CNet that getting Google's cloud computing shut down is a long shot. He says the complaint is more about spotlighting the risks in Web storage. And I'm glad he's holding Google's feet to the fire.

But the concerns hardly give me pause in using the cloud. I'm more worried about how Google and other services might use the data to feed me ads or otherwise financially milk my stuff.

As far as security, though, the hard drive in my desktop -- much less a traveling laptop -- is a sieve. At least compared to Google, Yahoo, MSN, or any respectable cloud service.

Consider the burglar who made off with my wife's laptop a couple of years ago. Luckily, no sensitive data was on that PC. But a few more minutes and he might have grabbed an external drive or two. For us, that could've been a gusher of a privacy breach.